By Devin Ulibarri

White Pine Television District Board Member

Over the next few months and years, you may hear the term TV repacking mentioned. What does it mean and how will it affect my television?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) manages the frequency allocations for television, radio, cellular telephones, and many other services that we use though we may not realize it.  The amount of bandwidth available for television in 2007 with the implementation of digital television transmission and following the sale of a large amount of the remaining television spectrum will reduce it even further over the next couple of years.  With more efficient bandwidth usage with digital broadcasting and our ever expanding wireless networks, this spectrum was sold by the FCC to wireless carriers to be used for additional mobile phone network improvements. This means some of the channels broadcast by the White Pine TV District (WPTVD) will be forced to locate to new channels at some point in the future.

The WPTVD has been notified by T-Mobile, the purchaser of the spectrum in our area, that they are planning to deploy in our area and Channel 50, KLAS broadcast from Squaw peak, will need to be moved to a new channel by October 10th.  Channel 48, KVVU from Las Vegas will also be affected as it shares transmitting equipment with Channel 50 KLAS. Other channels will be affected as well, but currently we have only received notification for channel 50. Changes in licensing are underway and new channel assignments are pending, and new transmitting equipment and antennas are on order.  This will require hardware modifications to be done and channels may be off the air for a short period of time. Once the hardware and antennas are ready to go, we can begin broadcasting on the new channel allocations. For end users, this will require you to rescan your channels in order for your television to find the new RF channel.

TV repacking isn’t just something that is happening in White Pine County, but all over the country.  You may have noticed that Salt Lake City stations have been experiencing some difficulty over the past few months.  This is due to the broadcasters in the area having to decrease transmitting power to half of what it normally is until their channels are reassigned.  We have received notification that the new transmitters in Salt Lake City will be up and running at full power on new channels assignments in the early morning hours of Sunday, September 9th.  Salt Lake City channels will go off the air at approximately noon on Saturday, September 8th in order to switch over antennas and retune equipment to accommodate these channel changes.

While it may be some time before all changes will be implemented, the WPTVD feels it’s important to make the community aware of changes that may affect their television viewing.  While these changes won’t affect those with satellite TV, those customers can also benefit from over the air TV broadcasts in the area by adding a TV antenna to your television. If you have any questions you can contact the WPTVD at 289-2359 or by attending our monthly meetings, usually held on the second Monday of each month at 5:15 PM at the WPTVD offices at 1701 Avenue F in Ely.